Many people use the flat shooting 6.5 PRC for hunting deer, elk, and many other species of big game with excellent results. Here are a few great brands of 6.5 PRC ammo that will probably serve you well next time you’re afield.
Released in 2018, the 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge (sometimes known as the 6.5 Hornady PRC or just 6.5 PRC) has taken the hunting world by storm. Designed to use the same high BC bullets as the 6.5 Creedmoor, the 6.5 PRC has a larger case capacity and can shoot those bullets 200-300fps faster.
When compared to the 6.5 mm Creedmoor cartridge, the 6.5 PRC has a flatter trajectory with less bullet drop, more resistance to wind drift, and more retained energy at long distances. Additionally, with an overall length of just 2.955″, the 6.5 PRC will also still function in many short-action rifles.
The end result is that the 6.5 PRC is a flat shooting, hard hitting, and moderately recoiling cartridge capable of the highest levels of accuracy that still functions in a short action rifle. These factors have made the 6.5 PRC a very popular centerfire rifle cartridge among hunters in recent years.
Indeed, the 6.5 PRC compares favorably to many other 6.5 mm cartridges (like the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 Grendel, 6.5-284 Norma, etc.) as well as bigger cartridges like the 300 Win Mag and 7mm Rem Mag in certain areas.
While it is definitely gaining in popularity, not all manufacturers produce ammunition for it as it is still a specialized and relatively new cartridge. However, famous brands like Federal Premium, Nosler, and Winchester have all recently joined Hornady in producing factory 6.5 PRC ammunition for hunting elk, deer, moose, black bears, and many other big game animals in North America and elsewhere.
While the 6.5 PRC absolutely excels on deer sized game, it is also powerful enough for use hunting bigger game like black bear and elk when using heavy for caliber, premium ammunition loaded with controlled expansion bullets.
It’s important to realize that different hunting situations necessitate the use of different kinds of 6.5 PRC ammo for best results and using the wrong ammunition can lead to disastrous performance.
For instance, a load using a rapidly expanding bullet that’s ideal for use on whitetail deer would be a terrible choice for use on really big game like moose or elk.
Make no mistake, while it’s a little on the light side for extremely large game, the 6.5 PRC can be an extremely effective cartridge for hunting elk, but you do need to use proper bullets if you plan on using the 6.5 PRC for elk.
Fortunately, hunters now have access to a great selection of controlled expansion bullets that perform very well on really big game like elk and moose.
Keep all of this in mind when you select 6.5 PRC ammo for an upcoming hunt.
Additionally, while they can be very accurate and are certainly capable of killing big game animals, I don’t recommend using bullets designed for target shooting or marketed as match ammo like the Sierra MatchKing or Hornady ELD Match for hunting.
This is because target or match bullets usually aren’t designed for optimum terminal performance on big game animals and you may run into issues with poor penetration.
Instead, it’s best to stick with 6.5 PRC ammo specifically designed for hunting that uses soft point, jacketed hollow point, or similar hunting bullets.
Fortunately, there is a large (and growing) selection of 6.5 PRC factory loads specifically designed for just almost any big game hunting situation in the United States or elsewhere in the world. So, regardless of whether you’re using a bolt action Browning X-Bolt, a Christensen Arms Ridgeline, a Tikka T3, or some other hunting rifle, there is pretty much guaranteed to be something for everyone on the list below of the best 6.5 PRC ammunition for hunting.
In this article, I’m going to provide recommendations for the best 6.5 PRC ammo for hunting elk, deer, feral hogs, pronghorn, black bear, and all sorts of other big game. I’ll also go over the strengths and weaknesses of each individual load and so you can select the right ammunition for your specific needs.
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Hornady Precision Hunter
The 6.5 PRC absolutely excels at long distance where the almost laser flat trajectory and wind bucking characteristics of the cartridge become extremely important. It should come as no surprise then that Hornady includes the 6.5 PRC in their Precision Hunter line of factory ammo. As a matter of fact, this was the very first factory hunting ammo option for the cartridge and it’s still a good choice today.
Loaded with the extremely aerodynamic Extremely Low Drag eXpanding (ELD-X) bullet, this ammo line is designed for western hunters going after game like mule deer or pronghorn antelope who need the very best ammo for a long range hunting situation. Using a 143 grain ELD-X bullet, that load is a very good 6.5 PRC ammo option for hunters wanting to maximize the extended range performance of the cartridge.
Hornady advertises that the ELD-X bullet has the best-in-class ballistic coefficients over their entire trajectory and that their Precision Hunter ammunition also offers match grade accuracy (usually sub-MOA).
Though the ELD-X does not have a bonded core like the Hornady InterBond, the ELD-X does feature a thicker jacket and the Hornady InterLock ring to help increase weight retention, control expansion, and minimize the chances of core-jacket separation. For this reason, the ELD-X is still devastating on deer and pronghorn sized game, but it’s also a much better choice than their SST bullet for use on larger game.
That said, the ELD-X is still a little too fragile for my tastes. Many hunters use this exact ammunition on elk each year with a lot of success. Personally, I prefer a tougher bullet for elk sized game (like the Barnes LRX, Nosler AccuBond Long Range, Hornady CX, or Federal Terminal Ascent also on this list). I think the ELD-X is perfect for deer sized game though.
All things considered, this 6.5 PRC ammunition is capable of delivering great terminal performance on many species of big game for shots at 400+ yards without dealing with the price or recoil of the big magnum cartridges.
- Bullet Type: Hornady Extremely Low Drag eXpanding
- Bullet Weight: 143 grains
- Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .625
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,960 feet per second (2,782 ft-lbs of muzzle energy)
GET PRECISION HUNTER 6.5 PRC AMMO HERE
Also Available at: Cabela’s, Lucky Gunner, Natchez Shooters Supplies, Palmetto State Armory, and Sportsman’s Warehouse
Barnes VOR-TX Long Range
Barnes recently added a 6.5 PRC ammo option to their VOR-TX Long Range line. Featuring their legendary copper Long Range Expanding (LRX) bullets, Barnes ammunition is designed for rapid expansion, high weight retention, and deep penetration.
Available using 127gr 6.5mm bullets, Barnes now offers another outstanding choice for hunters looking for a tough 6.5 PRC ammo option suitable for bigger game like elk hunting. This particular loading uses a 127gr LRX bullet. Designed for use at extended range, these bullets have a higher ballistic coefficient and are built to expand well at lower velocities when compared to the regular Barnes TTSX bullets.
Fortunately, even the LRX bullet is still very tough and will deliver great weight retention and deep penetration. You can also depend on it to perform well at close range. Not every hunter will need the extended range performance of the LRX, but it’s an excellent offering for those who want it.
This load is also 100% copper, which makes it an ideal choice of 6.5 PRC hunting ammunition for use in states like California that that don’t permit the use of lead bullets.
I’m a big fan of the Barnes VOR-TX line and the LRX bullets in general. I’ve used this ammunition with a lot of success on both deer and pronghorn over the past few years. This ammo is also a favorite among many North America, New Zealand, and Africa hunting outfitters.
- Bullet Type: Long Range Expanding (LRX)
- Bullet Weight: 127 grains
- Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .468
- Muzzle Velocity: 3,100 feet per second (2,710 ft-lbs of muzzle energy)
Also Available at: Cabela’s, Optics Planet, and Palmetto State Armory
Federal Premium Terminal Ascent
Federal’s Terminal Ascent line is another good option of 6.5 PRC hunting ammo for hunters looking for really good extended range performance. This ammunition uses the new Terminal Ascent Bullet, which is also extremely aerodynamic and accurate. It’s not quite as aerodynamic as the Hornady ELD-X, but it still has a relatively high BC and is also much more robustly constructed.
With those things in mind, I personally tend to lean more towards the Terminal Ascent over the ELD-X for hunting bigger game like elk with the 6.5 PRC. This ammo is another great option for hunters going after game out west like mule deer or pronghorn who need excellent 6.5 PRC ammo for a long range hunting situation.
If this ammunition shoots accurately in your rifle, this is another good option (with the 127gr Barnes LRX and 130gr Hornady CX, and 142gr Nosler AccuBond Long Range) for hunters who need good 6.5 PRC ammo for elk hunting. While the Barnes LRX is a slightly tougher bullet, the Terminal Ascent has a little bit higher BC though. Both are excellent options though and will work great on an upcoming elk hunt if they function reliably and shoot accurately in your rifle.
- Bullet Type: Terminal Ascent
- Bullet Weight: 130 grains
- Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .532
- Muzzle Velocity: 3,000 feet per second (2,598 ft-lbs of muzzle energy)
GET TERMINAL ASCENT 6.5 PRC AMMO HERE
Also Available at: Brownell’s, Cabela’s, Natchez Shooters Supplies, Optics Planet, & Sportsman’s Warehouse
Hornady introduced their new Outfitter line of ammunition a few years ago and just added the 6.5 PRC cartridge to that lineup. Though it will also work quite well on a whitetail deer hunt in the back 40, the company markets this 6.5 PRC ammo specifically for use on guided hunts in really tough environments like a caribou or moose hunt in Alaska or a kudu hunt in South Africa.
This ammunition is loaded with an extremely tough 130 grain CX bullet that’s designed for controlled expansion, high weight retention, and deep penetration on large, heavy boned animals like elk and moose. This is high-quality ammunition that also uses nickel-plated case for reliable feeding and corrosion resistance under the most demanding conditions. The primers and case necks are also sealed.
With all those things in mind, it’s easy to see why Hornady advertises their Outfitter 6.5 PRC ammo for use on a big hunt that’s the culmination of years of saving and planning. After all, when the chips are down on the hunt of a lifetime, the absolute last thing you need is for your ammo to fail at the moment of truth.
Look really hard at the 127gr Barnes LRX, the 130gr Terminal Ascent, the 142gr Nosler AccuBond Long Range, or the 130gr CX for the best 6.5 PRC ammo for elk. All will offer similar terminal performance and similar ballistics. Choose the one you’re able to obtain that shoots best in your rifle.
The CX bullet used in Hornady Outfitter ammunition is lead free, which makes this ammo another good choice for use in states like California. Note: the CX bullet replaced the older GMX bullet from Hornady and is a tiny bit more aerodynamic, but retains the great terminal performance of the GMX.
- Bullet Type: CX
- Bullet Weight: 130 grains
- Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .489
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,975 feet per second (2,555 ft-lbs of muzzle energy)
GET HORNADY OUTFITTER 6.5 PRC AMMO HERE
Also Available at: Brownell’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse
Nosler Trophy Grade Long Range
Nosler produces 6.5 PRC ammo as part of their Trophy Grade Long Range line loaded with their AccuBond Long Range Bullets. The 142 grain AccuBond Long Range bullets used in this loading have a bonded core and have both the highest BC and use the heaviest bullets available in a factory load for the cartridge.
That heavy for caliber, extremely aerodynamic bullet maximizes the strengths of the high velocity 6.5 PRC cartridge and delivers heavy hitting, flat shooting, and wind bucking performance out to extended range. This bullet also works great with the 1:8″ twist barrels that are common with 6.5 PRC rifles.
Indeed, this 6.5 PRC loading is capable of shooting a much tougher bullet with the same BC as the 143gr ELD-X used in Hornady’s Precision Hunter line. For this reason, the two loads will have virtually the same trajectory, but the tougher 142gr ABLR will work better on bigger game than the 143gr ELD-X.
With all that in mind, this is the best choice of a factory load for a hunter looking to maximize the all-around performance of the 6.5 PRC. That bullet is soft enough to deliver devastating terminal performance on game like deer and pronghorn, but is also tough enough to reach the vitals on bigger and tougher game like elk and moose from typical shooting angles.
By the same token, this bullet has a very high ballistic coefficient and, thanks in part to the combination of using Nosler brass with Nosler bullets, is also capable of outstanding accuracy.
All of those factors combine to facilitate use on big game at extended range.
All things considered, I think this is the best 6.5 PRC ammo for use on all manner of game and under the widest possible variety of hunting situations.
- Bullet Type: Nosler AccuBond Long Range
- Bullet Weight: 142 grains
- Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .625
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,900 feet per second (2,651 ft-lbs of muzzle energy)
GET NOSLER TROPHY GRADE LONG RANGE 6.5 PRC AMMO HERE
Also Available at: Cabela’s, Natchez Shooter Supplies, and Sportsman’s Warehouse
It’s not new, fancy, or sexy, but Federal Fusion ammunition with a 140gr bullet is outstanding 6.5 PRC ammo for deer hunting. In addition to being very effective, this ammunition is also somewhat reasonably priced and has been one of the easier to find 6.5 PRC ammo options during the past few years.
Fusion bullets have a bonded lead core to help with weight retention. Combined with a skived tip to help initiate expansion, Federal Fusion 6.5 PRC ammo delivers a really good balance of controlled expansion, high weight retention, and deep penetration. While it’s not the latest and greatest stuff, Federal Fusion ammunition also has a really good reputation for accuracy.
This is ideal ammo for feral hog and deer hunting. You could also include game like pronghorn and even black bear in there as well.
It will definitely work on bigger game if you don’t have anything better, but I do not recommend using Federal Fusion 6.5 PRC caliber ammo for hunting game like elk or moose unless that’s all you have. Instead, I think other loads I recommend later in this article are a better choice like the Barnes LRX, Hornady CX, Nosler AccuBond, or Federal Terminal Ascent.
All things considered, this is outstanding on deer sized game and you can’t go wrong with Federal Fusion 6.5 PRC ammo for deer hunting.
- Bullet Type: Fusion Soft Point
- Bullet Weight: 140 grains
- Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .439
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,925 feet per second (2,659 foot-pounds of energy)
GET FEDERAL FUSION 6.5 PRC AMMO HERE
Also Available at: Cabela’s and Natchez Shooter Supplies
Nosler Trophy Grade
Nosler manufacturers a loading that uses a 140 grain AccuBond bullet as part of their Trophy Grade line. This is perfect for those in need of some quality and extremely versatile 6.5 PRC ammo for deer, bear, or elk hunting.
Just like the name says, the AccuBond is a bonded bullet where the lead core is chemically bonded to the jacket, so you don’t have to worry about the bullet “grenading” or expanding too rapidly upon impact. It’s not quite as tough as the Nosler Partition, but the AccuBond is still a very robustly constructed bullet and these features make the AccuBond a much better choice for an elk hunt than typical cup and core bullets.
AccuBond bullets are also pretty darn aerodynamic (much more aerodynamic than Partition bullets of the same caliber and weight) and will reliably expand at lower impact velocities. All things considered, this ammunition is tough enough for close range shots on big game while at the same time providing very good extended range performance.
Some of the more specialized 6.5 PRC loads (which I’ll also cover in this article) offer better performance in specific circumstances. However, this 140 gr AccuBond load is an excellent all around choice for hunters who want a flexible, yet still extremely capable 6.5 PRC hunting load regardless of whether you’re hunting deer in Idaho or elk in Colorado. Place one of these bullets in the right place and you’ll be happy with the results.
- Bullet Type: Nosler AccuBond
- Bullet Weight: 140 grains
- Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .509
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,900 feet per second (2,614 ft-lbs of muzzle energy)
GET TROPHY GRADE 6.5 PRC AMMO HERE
Also Available at: Cabela’s, Natchez Shooter Supplies, and Sportsman’s Warehouse.
Winchester Expedition Big Game Long Range
Winchester’s Expedition Big Game Long Range factory load is a collaboration between Winchester Ammunition and Nosler Inc. that’s loaded with a 142 grain Nosler AccuBond Long Range (ABLR) bullet. This ammunition offers great long range performance, but also uses a bullet that’s tough enough use with a short range shot on a big animal (like an elk).
The AccuBond Long Range is a great bullet that’s very aerodynamic and will still reliably expand at lower impact velocities. Nosler advertises that this bullet will still reliably open at velocities as low as 1,300fps (compared to 1,800fps for many other bullets). At the same time, this is a bonded bullet that’s designed to offer a mix of deep penetration, high weight retention, and controlled expansion.
With over 2,800 ft-lbs of muzzle energy shooting very tough, low-drag bullets, this load will also work great at almost any reasonable range from point blank out to several hundred yards on all manner of game ranging from thin-skinned animals like whitetail and mule deer or pronghorn all the way up to bigger and tougher game like black bear, elk, and even moose.
For those reasons, this Winchester ammo with a 142-grain Nosler AccuBond Long Range is also great 6.5 PRC ammo for elk, bear, pronghorn, and deer hunting.
- Bullet Type: Nosler AccuBond Long Range
- Bullet Weight: 142 grains
- Ballistic Coefficient: .625
- Muzzle Velocity: 3,020 feet per second (2,875 ft-lbs of muzzle energy)
GET WINCHESTER EXPEDITION BIG GAME 6.5 PRC AMMO HERE
Also Available at: Brownells, Cabela’s, and Natchez Shooters Supplies
Winchester Copper Impact
Winchester originally developed their Copper Impact line of ammunition in parallel with their Deer Season XP line to provide some lead free ammo options for deer hunters. Those two ammo lines were well received by the hunting community. This eventually led to the expansion of the line to include lead free 6.5 PRC ammo as well.
Just like the other loadings in that line, Winchester Copper Impact 6.5 PRC ammunition uses a solid copper bullet design with a large diameter polymer tip that’s specifically designed to produce a gigantic wound channel along with massive impact trauma.
Additionally, this bullet will retain weight and penetrate extremely well since it is a monolithic design.
The end result is a bullet that expands rapidly, transfers a lot of energy to the animal for devastating terminal performance, and will still penetrate through thick hide, heavy muscles, and solid bone to reach the vitals of very large game from most reasonable shot angles.
The 6.5 PRC loading also has decent G1 BC of .428, which is pretty good for a lead free bullet. Using moderate powder charges, it does not quite have ballistics on par with some of the other 6.5 PRC ammo options on this list, but it still performs extremely well and offers excellent performance at short range as well as for longer range shooting.
While this loading will indeed work great on deer-sized game, it’s not limited to just deer either and should work great for bigger and tougher game like feral hogs, black bear, and even potentially elk. For this reason, Winchester re-branded this ammo to drop the “Deer Season” moniker and just go with “Copper Impact” instead.
Finally, this ammo is a great choice for use in states like California and is another California legal 6.5 PRC factory ammo option.
- Bullet Type: Winchester Copper Extreme Point
- Bullet Weight: 125 grains
- Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .428
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,875 feet per second
GET COPPER IMPACT 6.5 PRC AMMO HERE
Also Available at: Brownells
Nosler Ballistic Tip
Nosler also offers a 6.5 PRC loading using a 140 grain Ballistic Tip bullet. This bullet is also an outstanding choice for hunting thin-skinned game like deer and pronghorn.
Ballistic Tip bullets are designed to deliver devastating terminal effects to game upon impact. Nothing is guaranteed, but these bullets often deliver instant, knock down results on deer sized game.
All things considered, Nosler Ballistic Tip 6.5 PRC ammo is an ideal choice for use on deer sized game like feral hogs, pronghorn, mule deer, and whitetail deer at close range as well as extended range. They also tend to shoot very accurately in most 6.5 PRC rifles.
As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Those bullets expand rapidly and deliver incredible shock upon impact, but they don’t penetrate very well. This isn’t usually an issue with deer-sized game, but I do NOT recommend using Nosler Ballistic Tip ammo for bigger game like elk or moose.
Instead, stick to game like whitetail deer, mule deer, and pronghorn with the 140 grain Ballistic Tip. You’ll probably be very happy with the results if you do that.
- Bullet Type: Nosler Ballistic Tip
- Bullet Weight: 140 grains
- Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .509
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,900 feet per second (2,614 foot-pounds of energy)
GET BALLISTIC TIP 6.5 PRC AMMO HERE
Also Available at: Cabela’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse
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